Area native pens book of biblical connection
LIDGERWOOD – Rev. Adam Filipek wants all people, not just his congregation, to see the one connected story of the Bible and then to see their lives in that story.
Connection has been a dissertation topic, pulpit teaching and now a book theme for the Minot-area native, who serves Holy Cross and Immanuel Lutheran churches in Lidgerwood. Filipek’s book, “Life in Christ: Rooted, Woven and Grafted into God’s Story,” publishes June 6 through Concordia Publishing House.
As he pastored various churches, and even before he became a pastor, Filipek said, he noticed that teaching the faith involved a lot of stories, but people weren’t making sense of them.
“Everything just seemed disconnected and decompartmentalized,” he said. In his book, he uses the imagery of a 3,000-piece puzzle dumped on a table to represent the way many Christians receive the teachings about Scripture and the Christian life. They feel adrift in figuring out how the pieces come together to create a beautiful picture, he said.
“That’s what my doctorate focused on. How do you teach the faith? How do you connect those pieces together? So the book arose actually out of 13 years of ministry and thinking everything is just kind of disconnected for the people. So how do we put this picture together in a way that you see your life is not just what you do in church as a Christian, not just one Sunday for one hour, but this is a whole life,” Filipek said. “This is a whole story – God’s story. And here’s my little puzzle piece. Here’s where I fit into that larger picture.”
His efforts to put that whole story together for his parish led to the creation of eight stained glass windows in Immanuel Lutheran Church that show connections between the Old and New Testaments. He posted on Facebook a photo of one of the windows and a bit of his doctoral dissertation, and an assistant editor at the church’s Concordia Publishing House saw it.
The publishing house asked Filipek to write a book proposal because the topic of connecting Scripture in an understandable way has been a challenge in many churches. Once his proposal was accepted, Filipek went to work on writing. He would read through the Scriptures again with the book’s focus as his lens and find new meanings he hadn’t seen before.
“So you’re learning as you go, too,” he said.
Over the course of a year, he invested 558 hours into the book.
“But I think it’s worked out really well. I had a lot of fun,” he said.
Promotional information will be coming out soon and preorders are available on Amazon. When it comes out June 6, Filipek will be in St. Louis, Missouri, visiting his wife’s family, but he knows his parish will be awaiting the book’s debut.
“The congregation is really just very supportive, and the first dedication page is to them because without their support, I wouldn’t have gone down this road,” he said.
Filipek also has served as an adjunct college professor for the past four years at Concordia in St. Paul. He teaches during the summers for Concordia Seminary in St. Louis as a preaching professor.
Filipek attended Burlington Elementary and Des Lacs High School, graduating in 2001 and going on to graduate from Minot State University with degrees in management information systems with a minor in philosophy. He then moved to St. Louis to enter the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod seminary.
Filipek credits the encouragement of his pastor at St. Paul Lutheran in Minot for his decision to attend seminary.
His four years there included an internship in Chester, Illinois. Completing his studies in 2009, he accepted a call to Hicksville, New York, on Long Island. Three and a half years later, he took a second call to Florissant, Missouri, in the St. Louis area. He was there in 2014 when a young man, Michael Brown, was killed by a police officer in nearby Ferguson, generating racial tension and unrest in the community. Filipek said his church had been very involved in the community, and its connection to city leaders, police and residents led to starting a street ministry to bring peace during that time of protests.
In October 2016, Filipek left Missouri to return to North Dakota.
“I love North Dakota. I always have. My family is still here,” he said. He wasn’t thinking of returning, though, until urged to consider it by the North Dakota District president at a national synod convention. Filipek later accepted a call from the Lidgerwood parish and made the move with his wife and four children, now ages 9 to 15.
His book is his latest ministry, and his wish for it is two-fold. First, the book supplements his teaching, and he hopes his congregation will gain additional understanding from it.
“The second thing is that Lutheran, nonLutheran, Christian, nonChristian – it doesn’t really matter – but that anyone can pick up this book and that it makes an impact on their life. It gives them a greater understanding of the Christian faith, of a Sunday service, of the daily life that you live in Christ, how God is at work in your daily life. It gives you maybe some of those answers that you’ve been seeking,” he said. “If it helps people in growing in the faith and in strengthening faith, that’s what I really want out of this book.”